Getting organized is good for your health. I know my mental attitude and outlook improves a hundred fold when my house is clean and orderly. When it is chaos, my life seems to mirror that. I am grumpy, unmotivated, less likely to be patient with my kids, and less likely to make good decisions. Who wants to cook that healthy slow food when the kitchen is a wreck and the pantry is so stuffed I cannot find the things I need? Ordering takeout starts to sounds a little too good. Likewise who wants to sit and pay their bills online when their desk is stacked high with papers, schoolwork, and overdue library books?
When the clutter and chaos gets a bit much I find that I personally will look for reasons to get out of the house, wasting gas and money because I will find some small reason to go to the store and then walk with away stuff I didn’t really need. This just compounds the problem and highlights another benefit to clearing the clutter…it’s good for the planet too. To get that clutter free existence we need to let go of the clutter and avoid acquiring more. Sounds so easy right? Why is this so hard to do?! Let’s break it down into three easy steps…
1. Purge All The Stuff!
Go through your home room by room and get rid of things you don’t NEED. Sort them into boxes labeled Donate, Garage Sale, Craigslist, Recycle, etc. Find new homes for these items pronto because they are only dragging you down and there are people out there who may truly need them.
* Go through the wardrobes of everyone in the house. Pack away seasonal clothing that will likely last another season or that can be handed down, mark them clearly, and store them in the basement or garage. Donate or sell items that no longer fit or that no longer make sense. Does any one person really need seven pairs of khaki shorts or nine pairs of jeans? Probably not. Purge clothing that you hope will fit you someday. Live in the present and if the clothes don’t fit right now, get rid of them.
* Get rid of gifted items that you don’t need/use. Everyone probably has a few things that they hang on to because they were a gift and not because they actually want them. Take a stand and get rid of them.
* Get rid of things that bring up bad feelings. Do you hang on to certain items because they were pricey and you feel guilty about letting them go and for buying them in the first place? Get over it, we all do it from time to time but it is just nonsense to keep the items and let them make you feel bad every time you look at them. Try to sell them first, even if you lose money. If you cannot sell it then donate it. Your peace of mind is worth it.
* Ask yourself about all of your belongs: “Do I love this? Have I used it in the past year? I am likely to use it again? Does it make my life easier/better or does it collect dust?” Teach your kids to ask these same questions.
* Pack up hard to part with items and try a trial separation. After one year has passed and you haven’t used the items in the box…they need to go. Don’t even look at them first, just donate them.
2. Organize All The Stuff!
Everything you end up keeping needs to have a home.
* Employ baskets (my fave!) and storage boxes to tuck things away. Try to avoid plastic storage tubs if you can for environmental reasons. Check out my post on Non Plastic Storage Container Solutions.
* Keep counter tops clean and clear, if you cannot then go back to step one and keep purging.
* Use shoe racks or hanging shoe organizers to keep shoes off the floor.
* Designate a place (an inbox) for incoming mail and all papers from receipts, to warranties, to school permission forms. Go through it daily! Don’t let piles form.
* Invest in double duty furniture aka a coffee table with built in drawers or perhaps an antique trunk that can double as a coffee table.
* Mount shelves inside windows. This space often goes unused but special collections, jars, vases. etc will look stunning with natural light as their backdrop.
Once your home is clutter free and beautiful hopefully you will want to keep it that way. Heaven help the child who throws their backpack down on the floor after I have thoroughly cleaned and decluttered!
* Walk children through the steps they need to take when entering the house…put shoes away, hang backpacks on the hooks in the closet, socks need to go in the basket in the basement, toys and other personal belongs need to go upstairs to their rooms (and be put away) right away. Once they get used to this expectation it becomes normal.
* Find ways to fix things you currently own instead of being so quick to buy new. Check the Internet and eBay for parts and for step by step instructions on how to fix just about anything under the sun.
* Think hard about all new purchases. Do you absolutely need this? Where will you keep it?
* Avoid purchases that bring with them lots packaging waste that you will have to throw away or recycle.
* If you like to hit up yard sales just make sure you actually need the items you buy and donate a few you already have to make room for the new.